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Winter Hiking: 10 Keys to Walk Through the Snow
The cold arrives, and the mountains are covered with snow. In them, roads, rocks, and green disappear. Lakes and rivers are frozen, and the landscape is dyed white.
Every winter, the most active hikers go for a walk in this landscape: they make winter hiking. For those who want to try this type of activity, we must warn of a few risks.
Walking in the snow is more dangerous, slower and more tired. And you have to fight low temperatures. Mountaineering should not be afraid, but much respect. Whoever encourages to practice it has to be prepared and aware of it.
Ten keys (obligatory) to walk through the snow:
Know snow techniques: Walking through snow and ice is dangerous. Knowing how to walk with crampons or snowshoes and using the ice ax when falling on the ground is essential for the safety of hikers, even if the route is not too difficult.
Bring the right equipment: Know what the traveler is facing, have the right clothes to fight the cold and also to rest. Having the practice to make a backpack is basic.
Go to the company: It is always safer to walk in a group than to do it alone. Try to always go hand in hand and make sure that at least one member of the group knows snow techniques and has experience with this type of hiking.
Know how to get oriented: Understanding the maps, studying the route in advance and knowing the environment is important. Everything is easier if a member of the expedition has previously made the route. There are GPS applications that can help, but you should not rely solely on them.
Know the physical limitations: Walking on ice requires a better physical form. You walk slower, your feet sink in the snow, and you have to fight the cold. The first winter routes should be simple and with little unevenness. In addition, they should require little technique and a few complicated steps.
Go to a hiker center beforehand: There are many hiking and mountaineering centers where you can get information about winter hiking and different routes. These associations also offer the option to federate (highly recommended) and, sometimes, also rent some mountain material.
Prevent meteorology: Avoid storms and fog at all costs and make sure there is no risk of avalanches. You have to make sure that the weather will be favorable and, if halfway through, the conditions start to be adverse, turn around and go back home. In this case, a timely withdrawal is a great victory. The route can be re-tried any other day. The mountain will not move from its place.
Know what to do if there is an unforeseen event: Knowing the emergency numbers by heart, knowing the way back and having the kit at hand are important factors to increase safety. It is also convenient to carry a probe, in case you can surprise an avalanche.
Get up early and respect the mountain: It is essential to start the expeditions early, with the flashlight ready, and to have finished in the afternoon. You have to control the hours and the Sun: staying on the road at dusk can be very dangerous. As always, if the road is longer than expected, you can turn around and return to the refuge.
Ask the shelter guard: On the routes that pass through mountain shelters, it is always advisable to ask the guards for the weather, the difficulty of the route, the details of the road? and all the doubts that arise. They know the mountain like nobody.
Taking into account this decalogue and once all the precautions have been taken, it is time to go to the mountain and start walking. Hiking is a sport that, in addition to a different physical exercise, offers unique experiences and landscapes. More and more people practice it, also in winter. You can not explain why: you have to live it.